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If you are a business that is looking to hire a worker from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) you must apply for a Sponsor Licence. This equally applies to small businesses and charities. This is a complex process and you will be required to provide specified evidence as designated by the Home Office. You must demonstrate to the Home Office that you have an organised and efficient HR systems in place to attain the fulfilment of your sponsorship duties once you have acquired the sponsor licence.

There are certain employer Sponsor Licence requirements you must meet before you can make an application. Before you can make a Tier 5 or Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence application, you must decide which company member(s) will be representing the company. Any members who represent you must be an executive/senior member of the company. As part of the application process, you will be required to prove that you are a legitimate business which needs the use of migrant talent. This is called the ‘genuine business test’. Once this has been arranged, you can apply for a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence. In most cases, you will need to demonstrate that your company is genuinely trading and that there is a genuine vacancy for the non- EEA migrant, which cannot be filled by a settled worker in the UK. All sponsors have to be fully aware of their immigration duties and have processes and systems in place to both meet these requirements and to maintain records as evidence of their compliance.


Business sponsor licences allow UK businesses to sponsor non-EEA nationals to work in the UK. If you want to sponsor someone under the points-based immigration system, you must hold a sponsor licence. Once this licence is granted to your company, it will allow a non-EEA national to make an application for their Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) work visa.

The importance of holding a Sponsor Licence is again reiterated under the Government announcement for post-Brexit new immigration system which will enable skilled workers to come to the UK to help grow UK economy and contribute to public services. This will be a global system which prioritises those who can add the most to the UK economy and society, wherever they are from. While the details are yet to be confirmed, we know at present that confirmed job offers will confer extra points for the applicant (migrant) and employer sponsorship by an approved (licensed) employer will remain a key requirement for the vast majority of migrants.


There are different types of sponsor licence available, so it’s important that prior to preparing your application, you identify the right licence for you and your prospective worker.


The Tier 2 sponsor licence is the most common visa that’s sought for by businesses. It enables companies to hire a skilled worker from outside the EEA for an extended period of time. This licence provides businesses with a range of options, including:

General – suitable for a role on the shortage occupation list, or when the talent isn’t available in the UK job market

Intra-company transfer – ideal for businesses who operate in different countries and need to relocate an employee on a long-term basis. It can also be suitable for graduate training programmes.

Sportsperson – for sportspeople or coaches who are taking roles at the highest level in their chosen sport.

Minister of Religion – available for those who are travelling to the UK for a long-term position in a religious organisation.

Tier 4 (sponsor licence) visa

The Tier 4 sponsor licence is suitable only for education organisations who are enrolling students from outside of the EEA. In order to be granted the visa, an establishment must offer courses for full-time students and continue to monitor the student, ensuring they attend their classes and contacting the authorities should a student leave their course prematurely.

Tier 5 (sponsor licence) visa

Tier 5 sponsor licences are suitable for temporary workers who are only looking to work in the UK for a short period of time, usually for a maximum of 12-24 months. This can include charity and religious workers, creatives and sportspeople, exchanges authorised by the government and international agreements.


When a sponsor licence is coming to an end, you can choose to extend the licence, switch it to another tier or apply for permanent settlement.

Extending you Tier 2 sponsor licence

You can renew a tier 2 sponsor licence within three months of the expiry date. The requirements are generally the same as they were with the initial application, with the extended licence lasting another four years.

While you can’t technically switch from a Tier 5 to a Tier 2, you can apply for a Tier 2 after you have stopped using your Tier 5 visa. In other words, after you have returned to your country of residence. Given the time critical nature of moving from Tier 4 and Tier 5 to Tier 2, it’s certainly an area where immigration solicitors can add a lot of value.


If your business is looking to obtain a sponsor licence, Osbourne Pinner is available to provide sponsor guidance for Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5 visas. With over 18 years of first-hand experience in securing sponsorship licences and managing compliance, our team of solicitors are here to help you sail through every step in hiring and retaining your ideal candidate.

Whether you’d prefer to call us, meet us in person or arrange a video call, please do not hesitate to get in touch for a free, no-obligation initial chat. Our seasoned and dedicated London-based immigration solicitors are here to help.

Contact us on 0203 980 9348 or info@osbournepinner.com today to discuss your application with one of our solicitors.

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    Our teams of Corporate Immigration experts work across a range of businesses both in the EU and Internationally, as well as specialist businesses with highly specific requirements. Take a look at some of the clients we work with below.

    Our Clients Say About Us?

    • We worked with the corporate Immigration Team to support our Company’s sponsors licence and our employees Tier 2 General visa application process. We had attempted to do this ourselves but professional guidance from Samina and her knowledgeable colleague Khadija and advise took so much stress and anxiety out of the already confusing process. Thank you so much.
      Martin Laker
    • Thank you, Patricia, for all your support and guidance throughout our sponsor license. Thank you for your prompt replies to calls and emails, you have always been approachable and I really appreciate your can-do attitude.
      James Parkin
    • This is the third time I have used their service for my Tier 2 change of employment application and it was granted successfully again. Due to the complexity of my work this was not a straightforward application at all, but all thanks to Samina who swiftly checked my documents so that my application went through smoothly. All my emails and calls were responded promptly. I highly recommend using Osbourne Pinner solicitors to anyone for their immigration matter. Thank you once again Samina, Khadija and their team for helping me secure my visa.
      Hugh Corder
    • I am very impressed with their professional service from Osbourne Pinner Solicitors. My case on sponsorship licence was handled by Samina & Patricia. They both are very attentive, courteous and professional and handled everything from start to end smoothly. I eventually got the A start rating with the approval. I am extremely fortunate to find Osbourne Pinner Solicitors to deal with my companies sponsor licence application and Tier 2 General Visa application for my staff. I would definitely recommend them, A special thanks to Osbourne Pinner team.
      Omar Sajjad
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    Brochure of Sponsor Licence Application

    A sponsor licence allows UK-based companies to employ overseas workers within the UK. After approval, the licence is valid for a period of 4 years with the option for renewal.

    Eligibility criteria for a Sponsor Licence are that your organisation has a presence in the UK and should be operating or trading lawfully. If you have more than one UK branch, you have two choices: either you can apply for one licence that covers all your linked UK entities or apply for individual licences for each branch, depending on your situation.

    While applying for a sponsorship licence, the organisation needs to accept certain duties to ensure the prevention of illegal working.


    The Sponsor Licence is the key for UK-based companies to hire international talent in the UK. This helps them to improve their productivity and operations. However, the legal process is quite complex, especially when you are applying without any legal help. Osbourne Pinner with its years of experience in immigration law can help your firm to acquire Sponsorship Licence successfully. The guidance provided by us will help you through the process of hiring and retaining your ideal candidate. Don’t hesitate to give us a call today for free, no-obligation initial chat.

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    A sponsor licence allows UK-based companies to employ overseas workers within the UK. After approval, the licence is valid for a period of 4 years with the option for renewal.